Carbon emission: Need to switch from carrot approach to stick approach towards industries

By Pritish Bhatt*

The first report on global warming was released in 1988 assessing the impact of human-caused warming. Ever since, there have been plenty of robust research done by notable scientists, conferences have been held with notable attendees and even some countries have come forward to address this issue at the nation level. Yet, a 2018 report by IPCC suggests that the global warming has led to an increase of 1.5 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial levels and it has been on a rise at an alarmingly high rate.

With global warming and correspondingly climate change becoming a growing concern, there have been social activists taking steps to counter and overcome this impending slow disaster. We all know about Greta Thunberg, a teenage Swedish environmental activist who became famous for challenging world leaders on their climate change action. There is one such Indian climate activist, Nagraj Adve who has been working on increasing the awareness on the climate change issues.

Nagraj Adve is currently a member of Teachers Against Climate Crisis (TACC) and South Asian People’s Action Against Climate Crisis (SAPACC). 15 years ago in 2015, Nagraj came across an article on climate change. Intrigued by the findings, he read more columnists and books on climate change which made him more believe in it so much that he started working in sharing the growing climate concerns with others. Earlier, he was part of organizations that focused on democratic rights and on workers’ issues. Currently, he writes and gives talks on science, politics, and impacts of global warming. Some of his articles have been published by The Wire, EPW, Science and Culture, The Hindu, Jacobin, and many other publication houses.

“Climate change impacts are more of slow-moving and long-term problem. People have tendency to focus on short term problems”, comments Nagraj Adve when asked about why climate change has kept on getting sidelined in past. While there is a general notion that people know about global warming and how it leads to climate change, Nagraj believes there is still shortage of enough awareness. He believes that majority of the articles and research findings are present in the English language.

Therefore, for a common person living in India who is not well versed with the language stand to get missed out. Hence, to increase awareness in India it is important to establish means for knowledge transfer in the vernacular language also, either through text or through short videos. For which, Nagraj has made his book on global warming in the Indian context available at 5 vernacular languages in addition to English, with 2 more vernacular translations under process.

Nagraj also believes that the impact of climate change cannot be seen or heard like air pollution or noise pollution, which makes some people even counter the very fact of its existence. There have been certain people who believe that the existing high carbon emissions are due to the consequences of the activities taken up by the developed countries and therefore, these are the nations which should bear the major brunt now that we need to reduce the carbon emissions to control the global warming. While its okay for the developing nations like India and China to prioritize their development over the control of carbon emissions.

Nagraj believes that even the developing nations like India have a responsibility to try to control the emissions. The current situation of global warming and associated climate change has become so complex and urgent now that it is important for them to contribute in its reduction.

Moreover, the carbon emission volumes generated by countries like India and China are so high that it cant be neglected. He further goes on to say that China should not even be considered along with other developing nations because of the sheer volume of emissions done by it. For context, China alone emits as much volume of carbon as whole of almost whole of Europe. The impact of uncontrolled emissions from these nations could lead to submergence of islands and sea surrounded nations, which makes it their responsibility also to put in effort to control the emissions.

Talking further about the situation of India, Nagraj goes on to take the example of New Delhi, that has been facing effects of global warming along with air pollution. The current circumstances have led to thousands of premature deaths and if it is not controlled soon then, it could very well start happening in other cities too. As per another study 75% of the carbon emissions are from urban areas and India like other developing nations is experiencing high levels of urbanization. With increased levels of urbanization, India could soon reach the level of China in terms of emissions if not controlled in time.

For this Nagraj is of the view that the recent governments have done a good job in promoting the renewable energy generation and trying to be self sufficient in terms of energy consumption. But he believes, there is still more scope to improve, since while renewable energy is being promoted, the coal import and consumption has also continued to increase. Therefore, government needs to promote and come up with more favorable policies for renewable energy generation and consumption. Until now government has taken a carrot approach, which can be switched to a stick approach whereby they could punish the companies/industries for not adopting less carbon emitting methods.

*IIM Ahmedabad | Class of 2022

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